Migrant Workers In Greece Face Exploitation, Amnesty International Says
By Maya Shwayder | December 21, 2012 5:28 AM EST
Amnesty International accused Greek authorities of ignoring the rights of asylum-seekers and migrant workers. In a report released on Thursday, Amnesty said that very few of the tens of thousands of refugees looking for a better life in the E.U. find that life in Greece.
Greece has long been a major point of entry to Europe for people from Africa and Central Asia, but the 11-page Amnesty report details the perilous and inhumane conditions in which many people arrive in Greece and in which they are kept once they arrive.
Border crossings, often taken across the River Evros near the border between Greece and Turkey, are highly dangerous. One anonymous account recalled how an inflatable boat carrying seven people sank when Greek police arrived in a patrol boat and began pushing the boat back toward Turkey. One officer took out a knife and stabbed the boat, forcing everyone aboard to swim back the Turkey.
If the migrants or refugees manage to reach Greece safely, they often have no place to stay and have no access to resources to properly declare themselves as refugees. Under international and E.U. law, the report says, asylum-seekers must be able to submit their applications as refugees and be able to access "a fair and effective procedure to determine whether or not they are entitled to international protection."
Instead, asylum-seekers face arrests and abuse by increasingly active xenophobic groups who have carried out racially-charged attacks. One case described two men who threw Molotov cocktails into a Pakistani-owned barber shop and attacked and stabbed a Greek customer at the store.
Those who do attempt to submit an application for asylum end up lining up for days outside the asylum offices for a chance to be one- -of-20 people on average who are accepted into the country.
"Men and women were sitting or lying down in the mud and rubbish, some of them had been there for two or more days," the report said.
"Such is the desperation in the queue that fights can break out as people jostle for a position. 'Sometimes they end up in hospital,' said a man from Bangladesh."
“Greece’s failure to respect the rights of migrants and asylum-seekers is taking on the proportions of a humanitarian crisis," said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty's director of Europe and Central Asia, in a statement. "Against a backdrop of sustained migratory pressure, profound economic crisis and rising xenophobic sentiment, Greece is proving itself incapable of providing even the most basic requirements of safety and shelter to the thousands of asylum-seekers and migrants arriving each year.
"The current situation in Greece is totally unworthy of the Nobel Peace Prize winning European Union and so far below international human rights standards as to make a mockery of them," Dalhuisen continued.
Economic problems in Greece have not helped the situation. The report admitted that the harsh austerity measures and depressed economic climate contributed to the "heightened xenophobic feelings" that has given far-right wing groups more power. The Golden Dawn party, who touts an aggressive anti-migrant stance, gained 18 seats in the last election.
The burden on Greece is great, the report admitted, and it is increasingly difficult for it to deal with it alone. However, this cannot excuse the impediments that deny people their rights, the xenophobic rhetoric, or the racist attacks. It is time that Greece and the EU act to put an end to the violations of the rights of asylum-seekers and migrants, Amnesty concluded.
On Tuesday, Amnesty issued another report accusing Italy of similar exploitative practices in dealing with their migrant workers.
To contact the editor, e-mail:
Most Popular Slideshows
- Real Life ‘Frozen’: Snow Overwhelms The US, Kills 7; More To Come (Pictures)
- ‘The Walking Dead’ Season 5, Episode 8 Spoilers: Daryl Dixon Is Set To Burn The Place Down in ‘Coda’
- Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt in Sydney for ‘Unbroken’ Red Carpet Premiere [PHOTOS]
- G20 Summit Awkward Moments: Putin Yawns, Mystery Bubbles Appear, F18 Drama Ensues
Join the Conversation
- Tourre on stand says email in SEC case 'not accurate'
- Syrian authorities blocking access to needy in Homs - Red Cross
- Faith in European Union at low ebb, EU poll says
- Former UBS banker gets 18 months, $1 million fine, for muni bid-rigging scheme
- U.S. judge halts challenges to Detroit's bankruptcy bid
- Walmart Early Price Matching Special Event On Nov. 21, 2014 Matches Its Competitors' Black Friday 2014 Prices And Includes Exclusive Deals For Samsung LED HDTVs And iPad Air 2 [WATCH VIDEO]
- US Plane Flying Over Russian Skies Spotted; Vladimir Putin Ready For 'Practical Cooperation' With US
- Walmart Pre-Black Friday 2014 Sale On Nov. 21, 2014 Includes Discounts On The 'NBA 2K15' For PS4 And The 'Skylanders Trap Team’ Starter Kit [WATCH VIDEO]
- Alleged 'Microsoft Lumia 1030' Front Panel Leaked With Capacitive Buttons; 'Xbox One' Owners To Get Free Goodies On Anniversary
- Black Friday 2014 Sale: Top Deals On Game Consoles Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Wii U And More
- Nexus 6 Release Date And Price Under AT&T, T-Mobile And Sprint Listed
- Cold War 2: Russia, China And North Korea’s Blacklisted Company Fortify Alliance -- Reports